Is being a TEFLer fair on your family?

Despite my rather flippant (and unnecessarily oblique) response to complaints about TEFL in my recent post on the topic, there are a few comments by “Don’t even go there” TEFLers that do sting, the stingiest of which is “You are ruining the life of your family by your selfish insistence on becoming/ remaining a TEFL teacher”.

Due to no longer working in Europe, hating the burden of personal possessions, only understanding the thrill of shopping when it is bargain hunting, and trying to be an antidote to the grandparents by not spoiling my daughter too much, I can honestly say that a lack of cash very rarely or never restricts the choices of me and my family. At the same time, even with my simple lifestyle TEFLing here in Japan doesn’t allow me to save enough to guarantee that remains true in the future. In fact, if one of us gets sick, if my daughter gets an expensive hobby or wants to go to a half decent university, or if one of us live into an inconveniently long old age, it is almost inevitable that choosing to remain a teacher will prove to be a huge inconvenience to my little tribe. So, as far as this one goes the most negative voices on TEFL forums are probably right – I am being a selfish sod in putting my own job satisfaction and the needs of my students above those of my family. And I don’t even want to think about how much future neglect of my aging UK-based parents St Peter will be totting up as I approach the pearly gates…

And you? Is your ego-centric insistence on teaching Present Perfect Continuous as a career dragging your whole family down?

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3 Responses to Is being a TEFLer fair on your family?

  1. I can see the concerns – and for my part have not had any children – and don’t think I should.
    If people do then they have to be reconciled to being financially poor but otherwise good parents.

    How many children of (in there own way) selfish workaholic parents are there in the world? Too many IMO.

    My own parents were always short of money for luxuries (though I didn’t see them as such in my teens) but were present and available in ways my rather spoiled friends parents were not.

    What concerns me is that I was a child of a very different Britain. The NHS took care of my brother’s long and life threatening illness, paid for us to go to university – twice each – and provided a council house at minimal rent.

    Things are very different now.

  2. alexcase says:

    I’d agree with all that, but a still bigger concern than the lack of a safety net is the lack of social mobility- however good a parent you may be, nowadays a lack of money could well leave your children working in Starbucks and/ or paying off student loans their whole lives.

    Luckily, I only really get stressed about things I could do something about but am not (like lesson planning and being on time), and in my present situation the chances of moving out of TEFL are zero, so I don’t actually think about this kind of stuff too much.

  3. Indeed. I also know that I didn’t ‘choose’ to work in TEFL over other more lucrative options. So am pretty much guilt free.

    TBH – I think the future is pretty dark for all of us – climate change and economic melt down combined with utterly dysfunctional democratic systems making it hard if not impossible to solve even the most basic of problems.

    I enjoy working with children a lot – but I do worry what their lives will be like.

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